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Monstera obliqua vs Monstera adansonii

MONSTERA OBLIQUA VS MONSTERA ADANSONII
Author: Muggle Plants with the help of Dr. Thomas B. Croat

PRELUDE

Let me start by quoting American botanist Dr. Thomas B. Croat from one of the emails he has sent me recently: “Your problem is that most of the plants [Monsteras] being sold everywhere probably have the wrong name with the exception of Monstera deliciosa!”. He opened my eyes to a brand new world where even botanists are sometimes wrong and people selling plants don’t care to research the right names. And so my Monstera journey began. I told myself that I will get to the bottom of this problem and resolve it once and for all. At least for me. Which name is right? Is it obliqua? Adansonii? Or maybe it’s none of these two. 

Dr. Thomas B. Croat
To learn more about Mr. Croat’s life

THE BEGINNING

I am a huge Monstera family enthusiast and my problem with names started when I got a small Monstera as a gift. The label stated “Monstera obliqua” and I was beyond surprised since this variety is so rare. How did we get our hands on obliqua in Europe? Hybridization? But, as this plant grew older it was very clear to me that this is not an obliqua. Was it adansonii? I was not 100% sure. And so I started to dig, and when I couldn’t find the answers I dug deeper. I found Mr. Croat email address, explained to him my dilemma and he sent me his unpublished Revision of Monstera of Central America with 91(!) spiecies presented which was AMAZING. I also wrote an email to the Botanic Garden of Rio de Janeiro, since I’ve read online they preserved Monstera obliqua leaves from 1993. Or so they thought.

THE EXPLANATION

Let me be very clear. There are only 17 known times in botanic history when Monstera obliqua was seen in the wild and leaves or other were collected for study. And some of those times happened in the 70s and since then have been corrected. Some botanists use the term “probably obliqua” when posting a photo and yet so many plant shops and online stores sell obliqua. This is a domino effect. If so many people call something one name so many times then other people assume this is the right name. I get it, but it’s not. Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Garden states that Monstera friedrichsthalii is considered a synonym for Monstera adansonii but Monstera obliqua and Monstera adansonii are not the same species. 70% of the plants sold out there are adansonii, the rest are hybrids, but still, not pure obliquas.

PL – “oblique” znaczy ukośny, więc używając słowo “ukośna” w opisie Monstery, która tak naprawdę jest adansonii jest także błędne, opis “Monstera ukośna” nie powinien się w ogóle pojawiać.

MONSTERA OBLIQUA vs MONSTERA ADANSONII

The easiest way to show you the differences between these two is to do it with pictures. Some of the Botanical Gardens still have wrong names attached to the leaves collected from the 60s – 70s. Mr. Thomas Croat was unable to send me a photo of obliqua. But the Botanic Garden of Rio de Janeiro did. The Monstera obliqua Miquel leaves from 1993. Wrongly stated also as adansonii in the parentheses.

These are drawings of Monstera obliqua by botanists: Michael Madison & Adolf Engler.

And here it is! Monstera obliqua! Yep, you won’t find none of those in the stores.

Photo above credit @mickmitty

And these are examples of Monstera adansonii in different growing states:

Photo above credit:  http://urbanyards.de/produkt/monstera-adansonii/

THE DIFFERENCES

Monstera obliqua leaves are as thin as a sheet of paper, when adansonii leaves are a bit rough when you touch them, you can feel their texture. Obliquas leaves consist mostly of holes, 90% of the leaf are holes. Sometimes the holes are so big they destroy the frame of the leaf. As you can see in the real photos of obliqua posted earlier in this post. Adansonii leaves are not as longitindial as obliqua’s. The holes in adansonii cover generally half of the adult leaf.

There are of course many hybrids out there. I myself have one with few leaves resembling Monstera obliqua and Monstera siltepecana, but the rest of 80% is adansonii. I sent a picture of this Monstera to Mr. Croat and he confirmed it was not 100% adansonii, only a plant based on hybridization. And in this imperfect plant world should be sold as adansonii.

So… Look closely at the leaves of your Monstera and find out which one is it. Is it adansonii? Or is it a hybrid? And maybe some other spiecies.

Like Monstera siltepecana:

Or Monstera xanthospatha:

But trust me, as much as I want this to be true, you do not have a Monstera obliqua. It’s a botanical unicorn. So please, spread the word, change the name to the right one. Let’s not be confused anymore! Peace, love & plants!

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